How can food and drink brands evolve to meet consumer demands?

This month we’ve got some tasty morsels for you: we topline how brands can tap into current consumer trends, according to Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Trends Report; shine a light on what’s going on in Kent to create a sustainable food system that provides nutritious, affordable food for all; and share the team’s take on the latest TikTok trend for crisp and wine pairing combos.

Grab a glass and your favourite snack and get stuck in…

Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Trends report highlights some key trends showing how brands can help consumers live longer, healthier lives, balance their needs for health and pleasure, and unlock new conveniences from technology like AI.

So how can brands shape their offer to the current consumer trends?

Brands can now position themselves as ‘unguilty pleasures’ or necessities in uncertain times – as we all seek comfort after years of stress and uncertainty.  People are giving themselves permission to be indulgent, so brands must offer moments of joy – they are no longer framed as guilty pleasures.

Brands must take the lead on sustainability making maximum efforts to do their bit to contribute towards tackling climate change in line with consumer expectations. This is in spite of the fact that many consumers have no choice but to acknowledge the need to buy sustainably, while being forced to prioritise affordability and taste.

Taste and value or flavour at affordable prices remains non-negotiable as the cost-of-living shifts consumer priorities. In fact, taste must always be the focus for food and drink messaging – people will always be swayed by great tasting credentials especially in the current climate.

Brands need to make sure they are clearly communicating on food processing. Consumers are waking up to processed foods and will be scrutinising labels accordingly. There is growth potential for minimally processed foods that share the benefits of processing in terms consumers can understand and relate to. There’s a big opportunity for the frozen food category here when it comes to enhanced nutrition, longer shelf life and reduced environmental impact.

Brands can help consumers find shortcuts to quality food and drink experiences. Consumers’ need for efficiency will drive adoption of technology such as automated shopping lists and meal planning apps. Check out Hellmann’s Fridge Night App to see how brands can use technology to use data to develop future NPD.

In Other News


Promoting Food for All

In October, we attended the Kent Food Summit with Produced in Kent. The aim of the summit was to bring together stakeholders from the Kent Food Partnership and the Right to Food University initiative to create a sustainable food system in Kent that provides healthy and affordable food for all.

It took place at The University of Kent, which is working to become the first Right to Food University in the country.  The University is spearheading Initiatives such as community gardens, gleaning projects, cost reduction of on-campus meals, and sustainable food procurement in a bid to change the system and make access to healthy food a universal right rather than a commodity.

Stakeholders at the Kent Food Summit gathered to address common objectives:

Royal Backing

The Kent Food Partnership is in good company when it comes to striving for systemic change in the food industry. The King is also putting his royal weight behind scaling up the infrastructure for redistributing surplus food, reports The Grocer.

King Charles is launching a Coronation Food Project to coincide with his 75th birthday this month, to help decrease the negative impact of the cost-of-living crisis on food poverty. It is hoped that his intervention can see levels of food surplus redistribution grow to 200 million meals a year, a major increase on the 125 million currently distributed by the leading food charity FareShare.

Crisps and Wine Pairing is a Thing!

Wotsits with your Riesling or Twiglets with a drop of Burgundy? The Times were all over the recent TikTok trend about which flavoured salty snacks pair best with which wine.

A quick poll of the Sharp office revealed that, unsurprisingly, we love a crisp & wine/cider combo – here are some of the team’s go-to pairings when it comes to the crunch:

“The irresistible sweet, salt combo of M&S Honey BBQ frazzle style crisps with a fruity, dry sauvignon blanc.”
– Clare P

“A rosé wine with salt & vinegar Kettle Chips.”
– Beshley

“A vermentino with some salty, fatty crisps from M&S.”
– Rebecca

“A stolen bag of the children’s Skips with “chicken wine.” (La Vieille Ferme Rosé).
– AJ

“For the non-wine drinkers – a Kentish Pip Highdiver cider with some roasted vegetable crisps.”
– Claire H

Calling all Plant-based Start-Ups Looking to Scale in 2024

The forthcoming inaugural veg-net event, which will provide a platform for connecting plant-based brands with buyers and industry experts face-to-face on 5th June 2024, has already become the must-attend event for plant-based business founders.

Leading plant-based organisations, including VegCapitalKale UnitedThe Vegan Society, and Vegan Business Tribe, are among the many prominent names that have swiftly come onboard as strategic partners and thrown their support behind veg-net.

High profile buyers are also just as keen to connect with ambitious plant-based brands, with participation already confirmed from Kale Foods, GreenPro International and Vegan Perfection.

Among the many challenges faced by start-up food and drink brands looking to scale, a crucial one is the task of reaching and connecting with time-strapped buyers. The event will provide:

  • 10 pre-arranged, one-to-one meetings with buyers
  • Captivating keynote speakers who will share their invaluable insights and experiences.
  • Clinics led by industry experts, delving into topics like Investment, Production, the UK Retail Market, the UK Food Service Market, and the EU Retail Market.

Register your interest and secure the early-bird discount now.


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